International Students Prepare to arrive

Prepare to arrive

We understand that moving to a new country for your studies can be both exciting and daunting. Explore JCU's comprehensive Pre-departure Guide for International Students to help you prepare.

Important Pre-departure Arrangements

After accepting your offer to study at James Cook University, you will need to make a few important arrangements to ensure a smooth beginning to your academic journey. Refer to the list below to get you started.

  • Once you have received your Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE), you will need to apply for your student visa. Understanding the visa conditions and working restrictions on your student visa will help you plan for living in Australia during your studies.
  • As one of the requirements for holding a student visa, you are required to organise Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) for the duration of your course. The details of your chosen OSHC will be included in your JCU CoE and must be finalised before you apply for your visa.
  • Engage with the Student Support Team and get all your questions answered by attending the pre-departure webinar, where we will work with you to ensure you have everything you need before you leave home.
  • Secure accommodation either on or off campus. Research your options, and lock-in your preferred choice as soon as possible.  If you plan to arrange accommodation after you arrive in Cairns or Townsville, we encourage you to pre-book temporary accommodation for your first few nights in Australia.
  • Consider opening a bank account before you arrive in Australia. This will ensure that you have immediate access to your funds and can handle any last-minute expenses during your travel and upon arrival in Australia.

Funding your studies

Studying at JCU is an investment in your future. Ensure you're fully prepared for your studies by understanding all the associated costs of international education. This includes tuition fees, health insurance, and living expenses like groceries, utilities, transportation, and entertainment.

A well-planned budget will set you up for success and allow you to enjoy your time in Australia.

Tuition fee information is available on the individual course pages. Remember to select the international tab on the course page to view the international fees.

Browse the courses here.

Incidental fees are compulsory purchases at an additional cost which are not covered by your tuition fees.

These often vary depending on your degree and can include compulsory purchase items, like uniforms or safety equipment, or course related activities like field trips.

For course-specific information, visit the detailed Incidental and Administration Fees page.

This is an Australian Government fee charged to all students at Australian universities. The funds are used to provide a range of student support services and facilities.

To find the specific rate for your period of study, and for more information, visit the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSA Fee) page.

OSHC is health insurance to assist international students in meeting the costs of medical and hospital care that they may need while in Australia. International students must hold OSHC for the duration of their stay in Australia, as a condition of their student visa.

For specific information visit Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC).

In addition to fees and overseas health cover, the day-to-day cost of living is an important consideration when preparing to study as an international student.

Living expenses can vary significantly depending on your lifestyle choices, personal preferences, and location. Townsville and Cairns are regional cities and can offer a more affordable cost of living when compared to the larger cities in Australia.

While they don’t directly list Townsville and Cairns, these handy cost of living calculators can help you build an approximate budget for the duration of your studies.

Below is an overview of common expenses to use as a general guide when you budget for your stay in Townsville or Cairns. The expenses are based on estimated 2024 prices.




Property Type

Average Weekly Rent (in AUD)


Five residences offering a range of accommodation options

$220 to $535

Off-campus in Douglas

Room in Share House

$180 to $240 (incl. utilities)

1 Bedroom unit or house

$240 to $450

2 Bedroom unit or house

$320 to $480

Off-campus in other suburbs

Room in Share House

$180 to $300 (incl. utilities)

1 Bedroom unit or house

$240 to $400

2 Bedroom unit or house

$350 to $500



Property Type

Average Weekly Rent (in AUD)


John Grey Hall

$206 to $285

Off-campus in Smithfield

Room in Share House

$150 to $240 (incl. utilities)

1 Bedroom unit or house

$350 to $480

2 Bedroom unit or house

$400 to $560

Off-campus in other suburbs

Room in Share House

$150 to $300 (incl. utilities)

1 Bedroom unit or house

$300 to $600

2 Bedroom unit or house

$330 to $480

Other Living costs (1 person household)


Average cost per week (in AUD)

Public Transport – Weekly student pass*

$10 - $20

Car related costs (incl. fuel, insurance & maintenance)

$100 - $280

Groceries / Eating out**

$50 - $200

Electricity and/or gas

$30 - $70

Phone and Internet

$20 - $50


$50 - $150

*All students are eligible for a student discount sticker which can be obtained at the student centre.

**Some examples for average expenses include:

  • Coffee - $5.50
  • Fast food - $15
  • Restaurant meal - $25
  • Student movie ticket – $18
  • Weekly gym membership - $20

Arriving in Australia

Here are some additional resources and reminders to help you prepare to arrive at JCU:

  • Plan what you will pack – Consider the campus and program you are enrolled in when deciding what to bring with you. While you will be able to find most things you need once you arrive, it is important to ensure that you don't leave any necessary items behind in your home country.
  • Check the customs requirements - The Studying in Australia guide provides detailed biosecurity requirements and restricted items. It also offers tips for a smooth border clearance process.
  • Organise your free arrival transfer - JCU offers a free pick-up service for our new international students from the airport, bus terminal and train station to your accommodation in Cairns or Townsville. Book your arrival service here.
  • Download the Sonder App - This multilingual safety and wellbeing app connects students with a support team that is available 24/7. Sonder will equip you to navigate a variety of unexpected situations and provide the assurance that someone is always there to help.
  • Explore student employment - If you plan to work while studying, explore information from JCU Careers and Employment. Discover available jobs, view sample resumes and attend upcoming workshops focused on enabling you to find employment.
  • Explore childcare and schooling - If you are bringing your family to Australia, you will need to  explore information about childcare and schooling. Being prepared will help your entire family transition smoothly and enjoy this exciting experience with you.

Need further assistance?  Access Student Support!

The help doesn't end when you arrive.  Once you're on campus, the Student Centre can assist you with navigating life at an Australian university. From subject choices to exams and even directions, we've got you covered.

Explore the range of international student-focused services available at JCU. Connect with our International team today!